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In order to estimate the effect of rising global temperatures on organic carbon (OC) stocks in the temperature-sensitivity Arctic environment, our project aims at investigating the transfer of terrestrial OC from permafrost soils to the Arctic Ocean. Detailed compositional analyses of bulk soil and sediments along a transport trajectory combined with compound-specific isotopic (13C and 14C) analysis of selected lipid biomarkers will be used to study alteration processes of organic matter occurring in the soil and its during transport. Sub-goals include to a) identify suitable biomarkers for soil organic carbon in permafrost soils, b) determine residence times of selected biomarkers in permafrost soils, fluvial and marine sediments, and c) quantify carbon transfer from source (soil) to sink (marine sediment) and its timescale.
Project Description: - Landform mapping of the periglacial and glacial structures using remote sensing / aerial photography and field observation - Genetic studies of ground ice using geochemical and stable isotope techniques - Studies of microbial life in extreme periglacial environment
3-D GPR (ground penetrating radar) profiling of permafrost deposits and examination of their geocryologic and sediment properties for verification of GPR profiles. The scientific project has the following aims: To improve the understanding of how GPR (ground penetrating radar) reflections are generated in frozen ground; to reveal the main factors (geophysical and sedimentary) controlling electromagnetic reflection characteristics and their spatial continuity as examplarily studied along a continuous permafrost section, i.e. to distinguish between physical (dielectricity, conductivity and density) and sedimentary (ice/water content, grain size distribution, content of organic matter, texture) properties and estimate their proportionate quantity on the origin of the wave reflections.
The active layer, the annually freezing and thawing upper ground in permafrost areas, is of pivotal importance. The moisture and heat transfer characteristics of this layer also determine the boundary layer interactions of the underlying permafrost and the atmosphere and are therefore important parameters input for geothermal or climate modeling. Finally, changes in the characteristics of the permafrost and permafrost related processes may be used as indicators of global ecological change provided the system permafrost-active layer-atmosphere is understood sufficiently well. The dynamics of permafrost soils is measured with high accuracy and high temporal resolution at our two sites close to Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. Using these continuous data we quantify energy balance components and deduce heat transfer processes such as conductive heat flux, generation of heat from phase transitions, and migration of water vapor.